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In honor of 4/20, marijuana activist Mason Tvert discusses the future of pot

See also: Pot critic William Breathes answers your cannabis queries in a special 4/20 edition

In honor of 4/20, marijuana activist Mason Tvert discusses the future of pot
Anthony Camera
Mason Tvert: Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Though he doesn't like to admit it, 31-year-old Mason Tvert has changed the way cannabis is viewed in Colorado — and the way Colorado is viewed by the rest of the country. Tvert, a native of Arizona and graduate of the University of Richmond, has been stirring the pot in Colorado since 2005, when he came here to start Safe Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) at the University of Colorado. By that fall, he'd pushed a successful ballot measure through Denver that decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults. In 2006, he went statewide with an initiative to legalize possession of up to an ounce by adults. Although that measure failed, 58.9 percent to 41 percent, the experience helped him calculate how to structure last year's campaign for Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use and cultivation, and also charged Colorado with coming up with a way to regulate this state's now-legal cannabis industry.

See also:
- Pot critic William Breathes answers your cannabis queries in a special 4/20 edition
- Where to party in Denver on 4/20

Now, while the legislature is busy hammering out details for how to start licensing retail marijuana stores as early as July 1, Coloradans are getting ready to celebrate the first 4/20 since marijuana was legalized in Colorado. So we decided to catch up with Tvert to get his thoughts on pot politics, how he thinks the implementation of Amendment 64 is going, and what's next for cannabis in Colorado.

A lot of people see you as the guy behind this. Eight years ago, could you have seen all this happening?

First of all, I want to avoid any of the "I'm the guy behind it." There was so much more to it. I want to avoid any of that douchery.

I mean, it's kind of weird. Since we started SAFER, the mission has never been to change policy. It is to change the way people think about marijuana. When we began, our goal was to change the way people in Colorado viewed marijuana. Specifically, to make people understand that marijuana is safer than alcohol. We ran the city initiatives, we ran the state initiative, and we did those with our primary goal being education.

So it wasn't, at the time, it wasn't like, "Well, is this going to actually win?" It was more like, "Are we going to actually educate people," you know? I never really viewed the victory in the end as "We're going to pass this initiative." It was more, "We're going to have enough people think this."

We've been seeing support grow nationwide. Back in 2005, nationwide, it was in the 40 [percent approval range]. The state had adopted medical marijuana laws...so it wasn't like out of the blue. But I think that it might have come around quicker than people might have expected.

How much of a role did medical marijuana play in that shift in attitude?

There are three general things that made this happen. Number one is the shift in attitude based on public-education efforts and the discussion that was forced here in Colorado. I am a true believer that the more people talk about this issue and hear about it, the more they are going to be supportive of ending marijuana prohibition. There are people who would say, "Well, duh." But you don't see this type of media coverage and discussion taking place in Texas, and people don't really hear about it. It's not a topic of conversation for most people. It is among people who care about marijuana.

When there are things happening on the city and state ballot and there are publicity stunts like billboards going up, it's something people talk to each other about. As they talk to each other, they come across people who support this, because, you know, half the people do support it. Now they are in the position that their brother-in-law supports it, or my boss supports it, and now people are actually thinking about it more. The public-education work that was done was a big part of this.

The other side is medical marijuana and the evolution of that system.... The development of a regulated system for medical marijuana cultivation and sales is the other huge factor in this. People saw that it is possible. They saw that it doesn't cause problems. They saw that local municipalities are able to ban businesses if they want; they saw that tax revenue could be generated. While I don't think that passing medical marijuana laws or the idea of medical marijuana is a stepping stone to legalization, I do think that being able to see that regulated system helped people recognize what a regulated system for non-medical sales would look like.

The third part of this, through both sides of that equation, is the growth of infrastructure. Over the last several years we've been able to develop relationships with local activists as well as other organizations. For example, back in 2006 the ACLU did not support the [statewide legalization initiative]. We talked to them, we knew them, but they didn't support it. But [with Amendment 64], they did.

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15 comments
ChoosingWisdom
ChoosingWisdom

I am very happy that we are getting closer to legalizing weed, but A64 still kept criminal penalties in place, so it did not make weed legal.  The law was written for business and tax revenue.  Otherwise, they would have also freed those in jail for non-violent marijuana related laws.  A-64 was created by the wealthy, for the wealthy.  Mason, being as fat and gluttonous  as he is, is a great spokeperson for the amendment.  Afterall, he personifies the the sociopathic greed behind the law.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the financial backers of A64 also had stakes in the prison industrial complex, which would make sense considering the criminal penalties in place.  Can't get rid of that gravy train!  I know that's hyperbole, but let's call a spade a spade.  If the intention was to legalize marijuana, then that is what it would have done.  However, the law was to REGULATE marijuana, not legalize it. 

sicclos
sicclos

U can never go wrong blazin some bomb weed!!! ;)

Testecleese
Testecleese

Mason, thank you for all your hard work and effort with A64. After using cannabis for over 40 years, it is a relief to finally not have to constantly look over my shoulder and stay mostly hidden. Because of your efforts we can all inhale just a little more freely now.

mnetters
mnetters

I always wondering how different the world would be if weed was the drug in place of booze

tabbysan1
tabbysan1

Thank you Mason for my freedom.

ANDROLOMA
ANDROLOMA

It's about legalizing freedom.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Testecleese  ... utter NONSENSE!

Before A64, you could possess up to 2 (two) ounces for recreational use and not face any jail time, merely a paltry fine *if* you were stupid enough to get caught in public.

With A64, you can only possess 1 (one) pathetic ounce, and you still can NOT use or consume openly in public.

Given that PUBLIC use, display and consumption is STILL ILLEGAL, how do you inhale "more freely" now ?

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay <===== LIES AND DISTORTIONS! Prohibitionist turncoat spreading DISinformation!

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay = PATHOLOGICAL LIAR! 

A64 legalized all 21 and over to carry/purchase/give away up to an ounce, grow 6 plants, and keep an unlimited quantity of what they grow! 

@DonkeyHotay <=== LYING prohibitionist turncoat

 
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